Peru Destinations: Jungle, Incan Temple
A 2009 Spring Term trip to Peru gave a group of Alma College students a chance to learn Spanish, discover the Peruvian culture and serve in a third-world country.
Twenty-eight students traveled with faculty members Myles McNally and Mark Seals and Mark’s wife, Gayle, to the Academia di Lationamericana in Cusco.
“I had never been to Peru before,” says Seals. “The teaching and the programs at the Academia were excellent, and there were tremendous opportunities for service and cultural learning.”
Alma College students in Peru.
Before the trip, students met once a month to research and discuss Peruvian culture and history to prepare. During the course, the students maintained a wiki, and each student wrote about a day of the trip.
“The parents really loved that they could follow along with what we were doing throughout our trip,” says Seals.
Students stayed with host families throughout the four-week class. After morning Spanish lessons at the Academia, students were divided into four groups for a three-day “road rally.” Using their Spanish skills, students had to locate certain items, landmarks and historical sites in the city. The winning team received a two-week voucher to study at the Academia in Quito, Ecuador.
During the second week, students traveled to the Peruvian jungle, staying at the Manu National Park. They observed a variety of wildlife, including the Cock-of-the-Rock, Peru’s national bird, and according to one student, “a tailless whip scorpion about the size of a Frisbee and many wolf spiders the size of coasters.”
To reach the lodge where they were staying, students had to raft down a river, though they had the choice between a harder and an easier course. They also had a chance to zip line 100 yards through the jungle.
In the third week students split into groups of four and volunteered at nursing homes, clinics, schools and businesses. Some students helped out in classrooms, while others packed pills for a pharmacy and other helped a business create an advertising campaign and Web site.
In addition, the group traveled to Machu Picchu, an Incan temple, an Indian market and other ruins.
“Seeing the kids grow in a culture that is not their own really keeps me going on these trips,” says Seals, who has taken students on numerous Spring Term trips to South America. “It’s one thing to see them grow here over four years, but it’s another to see their boundaries pushed over such a short period of time. Plus, trips like this help them better appreciate their own culture.”
Posted: Mon, June 29th, 2009 at 9:14AM